SUPER ULTIMATE WINTER RIDE GUIDE EXTRAVAGANZA - THE BASICS
With the mercury starting to take a nosedive this month, it's officially time to acknowledge that winter is indeed here, whether we like it or not. We are huge proponents of not letting cold weather and snow slow you down. The bike riding season doesn't have to end in October and in fact, some of our favorite rides of all time are from when the outdoors resembles a frozen tundra. It's just all about how you prepare, so we compiled a short list of some stuff that can help you get ready for (and dare I say even enjoy) your time on the bike this winter.
First things first...WHAT DO I NEED TO WEAR??
Layers! Despite what most people might think, it’s really easy to overheat while you’re winter riding. Your body will start to heat up as you ride, and that big winter jacket that keeps you warm when you’re standing still at the streetcar stop will likely be too much.
FOR YOUR BODY:
- Ideally start with a wool baselayer, or something synthetic that’s going to do a great job wicking the sweat away from your body. On a long ride where you might sweat a bunch, cotton will keep the moisture against your body, making you very cold!
- Once you have a baselayer, bundle up and seal all that heat in with a good water and wind resistant/proof shell.
FOR YOUR EXTREMITIES:
This one is super important. Remembering the times that we have called a ride and headed home are almost always a result of cold feet or cold hands.
- Great gloves or Pogies. Either offer some compelling reasons to go for one over the other. You can always combine the two for heavy duty protection from the cold. The 45NRTH Draugenklaw blocks the wind and creates a nice pocket of warmth for your hand. It allows you to wear thin or no gloves if you like a little extra dexterity and is also great if you need quick access to your phone, which can be an added bonus for couriers and foodsters.
- For gloves, we recommend the 45NRTH Sturmfist 5. We’ve used this glove in the past and don’t find it too bulky, the fit and finish are great and if you just don’t want to mess around with cold hands, these are the way to go.
- Make sure you have the right type of grips. If you have an aluminum or steel handlebar, it will conduct the cold so a good thick silicone grip, like the Wolftooth Fat Paw or Karve. You'll be surprised with the difference this makes and it will do wonders to insulate you from the cold metal of your handlebar.
- You can double down on this as well by upgrading to a carbon fibre handlebar. Carbon doesn’t transfer cold nearly to the same effect as a metal handlebar.
FOR YOUR HEAD AND NECK
- The right head gear for riding needs to be versatile, wick moisture and warm. You should have a layer in between your head and helmet - our favorite is the 45NRTH Greazy cap. It’s an essential winter accessory with our staff and you’ll often see us wearing it off the bike as well.
- We also recommend some type of necktube/buff. These are super versatile and can be used as just a scarf, but also shaped into a balaclava or just a face warmer. Double up the Endura Merino Necktube with the 45NRTH Greazy cap for maximum coziness.
- Keeping your eyes from watering can be a struggle for some when the temperatures really plummet. We recommend a good set of sunglasses or a basic set of ski goggles to help. Something with a great anti-fog lens.
FOR YOUR FEET
- This is always a tough one to manage and can kill a ride pretty quickly if you’re not prepared well.
FOR SOCKS - We always recommend merino wool. It’s cozy and insulates even when it’s wet. We carry lots of selection from The Athletic PDX in store! The other option is going for a waterproof sock. The Endura Hummvee waterproof sock is insulated and will keep your feet dry in almost any condition. On the really cold days, this is an excellent addition.
FOR PEDALS - Swapping your pedals out from a metal pedal to a resin or plastic pedal helps as well. Similar to your handlebar, a metal pedal will transfer the cold much more and can add to an already cold foot. We recommend the Crankbrothers Stamp 1 pedal. It has a large surface area, so it works well with big boots and looks great.
OKAY - NOW FOR YOUR BIKE. HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO GET IT READY:
- Our number one recommendation for people who want to commute in Toronto through the winter is a set of great, full wrap fenders. Toronto roads use so much salt that ice rarely stays put for very long on any main roads but as a result, they are wet from December straight through till the last thaw. Good fenders will keep you dry, and thus warm.
- Secondly I’d say tires. We get asked a lot about tires for the winter, specifically studded tires. As we mentioned in our fatbike blogpost last year, I’ve never met anyone who bought studded tires and regretted the purchase, but you can get away without having them, it just takes a little more care and attention when you ride. Also having no studs might limit what roads you can ride on, as sidestreets are often where ice accumulates. Studded tires often just mean less hassle and eliminates the worry of a sudden fall due to black ice.
- Lights! Winter time means way less sunlight. Most of us are heading to work in the morning in the dark and leaving in the evening in the dark, so light yourself up like a Christmas tree and don’t take any chances. We have lights for your helmet and bike, making you extra visible to drivers.
HOW DO I MAINTAIN MY BIKE THROUGHOUT THE WINTER?
- Keep it clean - Do your best to keep salt and grime off of the moving parts of your bike for sustained periods of time. Your bike will no doubt get slush, salt and snow on it when you ride (which is totally fine!) but take 2 minutes at the end of your day if possible to wipe that slush off your bike and chain and it will pay dividends.
- Keep your moving parts lubed. Chain lube is a huge must for the winter months. A great chain lube that is optimized for cold weather goes a long way in making your bike less susceptible to rust.
- Since finding a hose that works in subzero temperatures is rather difficult, it can be tough to find a way to actually wash your bike come the middle of the winter. A tip is you can head to a coin operated car wash and spray it down. It doesn’t cost much and it will ensure you get all of the salt and residue off the bike so you can apply lube to a clean bike.
- A product that we’ve also been quite taken with recently is Muc-Off’s Waterless bike wash. A cool product that you simply spray on and wipe off. We’ve been using it in the shop and have been impressed with the results. This would be an ideal solution for a way to get your bike a bit cleaner without access to a hose.
FOR YOUR COFFEE?
- Super important category here......I’m juuuust going to mention that an insulated thermos mug from Kinto would be a killer addition to any cold winter ride. They are double walled and vaccum sealed, so they don’t leak, fit into a waterbottle cage and will keep your drinks steaming hot or ice cold all the way to work.
FOR PEDAL ASSIST AND E-BIKES:
We reached out to David Kudo from Bosch Canada to give us some pointers on ebike specific maintenance and storage and here is what he had to say:
“For storage in the winter we suggest,
- Dry conditions
- Optimally between 0-20 Celsius
- Avoid storing the battery in direct sunlight
- Try to avoid temps below -10 and above 60 Celsius”
- If you're warm, your battery is warm, try to take it inside with you after a ride and let it warm up to room temperature before plugging it in to charge.
- For usage, anything under -10 degrees Celsius is fine but not ideal for the motor and may result in an error message. The electrical impulses move a bit slower at those very cold temperatures so you might expect a small drop in range and a bit of a lag when accelerating.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please reach out! We are here to help you get the most out of your bike and are happy to spend the time with you in order to make that happen. You can reach us at 647-351-4030 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, if this was helpful, please share it by hitting one of the buttons below!